Trapset for alto flute (1999)
The Heaven of Animals for C flute (2000)
Focus Group for piccolo (2000)
Bel Canto for bass flute (2000)

Available for Purchase at:




15 min.
First Performance of Complete Work:
October 24, 2000
Merkin Concert Hall, New York City
Patti Monson, flutes

With the title Rumors I pay homage to my teacher Martin Bresnick and his work Conspiracies for multiple flutes. He derived his title from the Italian conspirare, meaning to breathe together, yet in English conspiracies suggests something different and more ominous. Similarly, I derived the title Rumors from the Italian word rumori, meaning sounds or noises. The four pieces in my set, each composed for a different member of the flute family, evoke sound or noise worlds unusual for a flute.

Trapset, an alto flute piece, with tongue stops, key clicks, tongue pizzicati, and fluttertongued notes simulates a battery of percussion.

The Heaven of Animals for C flute, through a series of chords (multiphonics) presents a simple tune, the kind someone might sing to combat fear while passing through a dangerous place. I took the title from a James Dickey poem, about the endless descent of predators from trees unto “the bright backs of their prey” in the heaven of animals. There the reward for the weaker prey is meager: “to walk / Under such trees in full knowledge / Of what is in glory about them,” to accept this cycle of victimization.

Focus Group for piccolo focuses on material from a brief passage in Trapset. Except for a group of notes that spurt into the texture, most of the notes are blown with unfocused air.

Bel Canto for bass flute was composed in memory of an early afternoon in Tuscany. At lunch I sat by a very old man who was listening to a children’s song, barely audible, that played on the radio. He said that he used to sing it before World War I, that he was trying to memorize it again. With the music I wanted to recreate the sweetness of such a tune and as well the old man’s attempt to possess it.

Rumors was written with Patti Monson’s invaluable assistance. It is published by G. Schirmer.


“Harold Meltzer, in an amusing collection called ‘Rumors,’ provided a dictionary of colorful effects, the most notable being the percussive and breathy sounds that animated ‘Trapset’ (1999), for alto flute, and the illusion of an almost whispered duet in ‘Bel Canto’ (2000), for bass flute.”
   — Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, October 28, 2000

“Flutist Cheryl Gobbetti Hoffman also appeared. She played ‘Trapset,” a 1999 work by Harold Meltzer. Totally out of left field, the piece called for the flutist to treat the flute as an amplified percussion instrument — tapping it, striking it, blowing tunelessly into it. By the end, it had built into something menacing, as the always adventurous Gobbetti Hoffman hissed, trilled and all but spat into her flute. One listener whispered: ‘It is as if someone’s breathing down your neck.'”
   — Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News, September 8, 2005

“Harold Meltzer’s Trapset for amplified solo flute immediately got the program’s point across. Paolo Bortolussi’s performances of Meltzer’s shaggy essay in extended techniques made the big shiny flute sound like a duet between shakuhachi and tabla.”
   — David Gordon Duke, The Vancouver Sun, September 17, 2007

Performance History
  • February 18, 2000: Patti Monson, flutes, Sprague Hall, Yale School of Music, New Haven, Connecticut
  • October 24, 2000: Patti Monson, flutes, Merkin Concert Hall, New York City
  • October 10, 2002: Camilla Hoitenga, flutes, Alten Feuerwache, Köln, Germany
  • October 21, 2002: Patti Monson, flutes, Music on the Edge, Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • December 15, 2002: Patti Monson, flutes, CAMI Hall, New York City
  • April 4, 2003: Patti Monson, flutes, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York
  • August 8, 2003: Patti Monson, flutes, National Flute Association annual convention, Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • April 21, 2004: Patti Monson, flutes, Campbell Recital Hall, Stanford University, Stanford, California
  • April 26, 2004: Patti Monson, flutes, CalArts, Valencia, California
  • October 27, 2004: Patti Monson, flutes, Open Ears Concert Series, Suffolk Community College, Long Island, New York
  • December 16, 2004: Patti Monson, flutes, The Black Box Theater, Asbury Park, New Jersey
  • May 2, 2005: Patti Monson, flutes, American Academy in Rome, Italy
  • October 10, 2005: Patti Monson, flutes, Greenfield Hall, Manhattan School of Music, New York City
  • November 4, 2005: Patti Monson, flutes, American Folk Art Museum, New York City
  • April 18, 2006: Mario Caroli, flutes, Setnor Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York
  • April 21, 2006: Mario Caroli, flutes, Barnes Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • June 12, 2006: Camilla Hoitenga, flutes, Kunstakademie, Leonardo-Campus, Münster, Germany
  • April 1, 2007: Tod Brody, flutes, Empyrean Ensemble, University of California, Davis
  • April 27, 2007: Tod Brody, flutes, Empyrean Ensemble, Old First Church, San Francisco
  • November 26-27, 2007: Erin Lesser, flutes, Classic Chamber Concerts, Naples, Florida
  • September 14, 2008: Karen Skriver Zarganis, flutes, Figura Festival, PLEX Music Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • February 28, 2009: Robert Michel, flutes, Willow Street Concert Series, New Music Co-op, Austin, Texas
  • June 23, 2009: Robert Michael, flutes, Mannes College Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance, New York City
  • July 22, 2009: Roberta Michel, flutes, Bang On A Can Summer Music Festival, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts
  • November 4, 2011: Donald Malpass, flutes, University of Nevada Las Vegas